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The 7 (Actually 8!) Questions I Wish You’d Ask Me …

… regarding how to matter more to your audience, attract interest and new business.


1. Is it possible to overcommunicate?

Depends on what you tweet. I’m kidding (mostly). The question to ask is whether or not your message is relevant enough. The thing that is significant about the Internet (and all the social media platforms that go along with it) is that it broke – forever – advertising.

Before the world started sharing a brain, you needed ads to buy/build awareness. Now you need a handful of passionate fans to create a few other fans for you, and the good news is your fans have all the tools they will need to do this at their fingertips. You don’t have to invent the tools; you have to adjust your message and purpose.

It’s interesting to consider whether or not Apple, if they launched today, would bother investing in a big Super Bowl ad. Probably not. Buying the ad would be too risky and besides, they wouldn’t need to. The moment the first customer turned on their new Apple computer, the rest of the connected world would hear about it.

When a company now buys signage at a sports stadium, they are likely not selling more cars or mutual funds or services. They are buying decorations.

Marketing is about connection, trust and awareness. Having someone’s attention today is worth a lot more than it was in 1995 because we can find whatever we need, instantly, with Google.


2. So what should I do to get people’s attention?

Start by asking a better question than that.

What great businesses all have in common is that they offer something that their customers want to talk about.

You should let your customers tell you what you should offer, and not the other way around. You need to shift from asking how you get people’s attention, to asking what your customers are interested in.


3. How do I figure out what they want?

Think super small, and channel your inner weirdo. Shift your thinking from wondering about what all the ordinary people want and start to think about what people who care want.

There are people who buy pens, people who like fountain pens and then my weirdo brother who is a member of a fountain pen club. They get together and talk about fountain pens. If you were to open a pen store in my city, it’s my brother and his loose affiliation of pen weirdos who come and buy something. The rest of us use the pens we steal from the various hotels and conferences we attend.

The reason your marketing isn’t working is because the masses have too many choices. The people who care are going to listen because they don’t have enough choices. When you start to pay attention to the people who care about what you do, you won’t have to worry about being talked about.


4. What is (most likely) the biggest mistake I am making?

Too many carbs, seriously. But as far as your business is concerned, you believe that spending a lot of money (through salaries and advertising and promotional partnering) to get attention has value. It doesn’t.

Long ago, I worked at a kid’s camp and one year, one of our famous alumni, Michael Eisner, wrote a book about the positive impact his camp experience had on his life. He was on Larry King, Good Morning America and every other show that would have him, talking about the camp I worked at. We recruited one camper out of it.

How much money would you have to pay Larry King to talk about your idea for one hour on TV? How much would you have to pay Good Morning America to feature your idea? We got a single kid out of it. I learned this then: people watching TV care about watching TV. They don’t care about what they are watching, which explains the popularity of Netflix. On Netflix, you watch what you care about, not what everyone wants you to care about.


5. How do I seriously shift?

Accept that nobody really cares about your business, they care about themselves. When you wear a NIKE logo or a Grateful Dead t-shirt, you are saying something about yourself, not running shoes of jam bands.

Asking for someone’s attention is asking for a lot. Nobody is going to pay attention because you clearly spent a lot of money on signs in stadiums, full-page ads in your local newspaper, or a zillion dollars in stuffed mailboxes – digital or physical.

Shift your message away from what you do and towards who you are and what you are about.


6. Do I need to connect on an emotional or personal level with my customers? And what if I don’t?

Yes, and to answer the second question succinctly, I think if you don’t there is a good chance you will be out of business.

Consider Airbnb, Apple, Starbucks, Lululemon, Gibson guitars, The Ritz Carlton, In-N-out Burger, Disney, Star Wars and the successful financial advisor down the hall or in the next town over. None of these ‘things’ are anything more than ‘things,’ but to their loyal customers these things all have meaning.

Airbnb didn’t invent sleeping on someone’s floor. Apple isn’t the only computer company. Starbucks isn’t the only coffee shop. The guy down the hall or in the next town isn’t the only financial advisor. There are other space movies, burger joints and hotels, but all of these companies mean something to their customers on an emotional level.

We all have enough stuff, but not enough meaning.

You are what you charge for. If you don’t want to connect with people emotionally, then you are going to compete on price, and commoditization will slowly wreck you. You have to be about more than what you sell. Nobody cares about what you sell.


7. So what do I do if I suspect I’m not doing it right?

Stop what you’re doing and start doing it in a way that your customers want to talk about. As I have said in recent blogs, your clients are looking for help in transforming into who they want to be.

So here is a question for you: Who do your customers, guests, blog readers, patients, students, children, wives or husbands want to become?

As always, thanks for reading the blog and sharing it with the people you care about, or who drive you crazy. Or both.


Comments (2)

I am so energized and am already thinking about my business model in a different and more relevant way after Dennis’ seminar today at the Raymond James Investment Products Forum in Tampa. Thank you!

Hey Elaine – welcome to the Tribe. Its crazy and dangerous but we’re your kind of crazy and dangerous. Don’t manage their money, lead their souls. Share your secret, but only with the people who deserve you. Everyone else can beat it.
Experiences are not services.
Time is the currency of experience.
The customer is the product.
And just for you … Shun the non-believers.
Take care, keep in touch. DMW

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